Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Wheels falling off Jamaica

Published:Monday | February 8, 2016 | 2:03 PMR. Oscar Lofters

THE EDITOR, Sir:

As another election approaches, The Gleaner is filled with a flurry of political promises to repair roads, build new hospitals, and provide thousands of jobs.

A recent Gleaner photograph showed a group of about seven politicians with shovels huddled like rats preparing to break ground for new construction.

The recent buy-back on our Venezuela oil agreement was a grand attempt to reduce interest payments and supposedly reduce our debt.

The problem is that debt to GDP is still a chain choking our economy. Our growth rate is hovering between one and two per cent. Unemployment is at a pathetic level. Small-business growth is stagnant. We are still borrowing to meet our domestic needs. So we continue to rape our finite natural resources to stay afloat.

We no longer hear about the progress of the logistics hub. We are failing every economic measure for progress. Recently, there was much excitement about the performance of our primary and secondary stock exchanges. What is not revealed is that only investors will benefit. The average 9-5 working Jamaicans will not.

What should alarm every Jamaican is that our external debt is now approximately US$14 billion.Without debt forgiveness,we will never be able to pay off the principal. No government can solve such an overwhelming problem. Poverty continues to grow and no government has a sustainable answer to our problems, other than copious promises.

With public debt approaching J$2 trillion, economic and social chaos is inevitable.

Our economic future will be controlled by international lending agencies, including the International Monetary Fund. Long-term austerity will eventually lead to our demise.

R. OSCAR LOFTERS

lofters1@aol.com

Kingston 8